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tv   Fault Lines  Al Jazeera  January 8, 2015 5:30pm-6:01pm EST

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>> the first stop for many child migrants to the united states is this border patrol facility in mcallen, texas. >> "good afternoon, welcome to the rio grande valley processing center..." >> it opened this summer in response to an influx of unaccompanied minors from mexico and central america. >> do you think this is an immigration issue or a refugee issue? do you think some of them will be granted political asylum? >> we're not talking about criminals. these are innocent children, fleeing desperate
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times, whether it's poverty, whether it's violence, whether it's the draw of a better life in the united states. >> the obama administration has made it clear: most of the children will be deported. but they continue to arrive -- twice as many as last year, and 4 times as many as in 2011. >> we've been riding along the border all week and we're seeing some action in this area. we're not far away from the river and from mexico. we see some border patrol vehicles over there and some people on the floor, we're going to go check what's going on. >> border patrol has apprehended another group of undocumented immigrants from central america. one by one, their names are taken, their belongings bagged.
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in this group of 30, we counted about a dozen children -- some of the tens of thousands who have come this year. fault lines investigates what's driving this migration boom, what children have left behind ...and whether they'll be able to stay. nearly 70,000 unaccompanied children have arrived in the us from mexico and central america this year.
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but many more don't make it past the border. the children staying at this detention facility were all caught by mexican immigration before they could make it across. one of them is 14-year-old josue jonas ramirez. he's made the grueling 1,500 mile trip from el salvador. that's only half way to his mother, who paid a smuggler $4,000 to bring him to new york. it has been ten years since they last saw each other.
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>> josue told us that he had to leave el salvador. it had become unsafe for him. >> after his dad was killed by gangs, a gang tried to recruit his older brother, who fled to the states. this year josue, who has been living with his uncle, began to run out of options.
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>> josue was just one of the thousands of salvadoran children who have made the journey this year. >> violence in el salvador is rooted in structural, historical causes, one of which is poverty, the exclusion and marginalization of great portions of its population. >> hector silva is a salvadoran journalist. he says gangs have sparked the most recent exodus of children. >> i think now and for a decade,
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decade and a half, they are the most violent, and one of the most influential components of the whole equation, of violence, impunity, poverty, inequality, marginalization that has plagued these countries, my country, our countries for a long time.
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>> watch more "faultlines" on demand or visit there's more to finical news than the ups and downs of the dow. for instance, could striking workers in greece delay your retirement? i'm here to make the connections to your money real.
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>> san salvador, el salvador's capital, is where many migrant children -- including josue -- have departed for the us. it's also where those who don't make it are returned. >> this bus arrived with a group of children who were detained en route to the us.
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>> for many of these families it's been days and days of not knowing where their children were and what conditions they were in. now they've arrive and there's a lot of emotion. it's a mix of happiness and sadness. the sadness is that they didn't make it, and the happiness is that they're here alive and here. >> ruth gomez rivera's 15-year-old son was on the bus. he left the country a week ago, but was caught by mexican authorities. >> ruth's son is interviewed by immigration officials, fingerprinted, and released to the care of his mother.
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>> the family is reunited for now -- but they can't go back home. they're scared it might be a death sentence for their son. it's been reported that a about a third of the children deported back to el salvador this year have faced death threats from gangs. his aunt says the family will have to go into hiding. >> this is what they're afraid of... >> at san salvador's central morgue officials say an average of 12 bodies arrive each day. >> many of them are gang-related deaths and many of them are
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young people. >> for three years the orellana family has searched for their 16-year-old son. >> they just recovered his remains. the grandmother told us that he was killed by a gang. a dna match was finally made and today they are here to bury him. the boy's mother lives in the united states, and was trying to bring her son there.
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>> the gangs not the state, were setting the rules you pay me or you die. that's a rule. your children will be a part of my group or they'll be ousted or killed that's another rule. your daughters will serve me or my group as sexual partners, or they'll be ousted or killed. that's another rule. those are the rules, the state doesn't have the capacity to overcome those rules in those communities.
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>> two of these gangs formed in los angeles, where many refugees of the salvadoran civil war had settled. >> president reagan addressed joint sessions of congress in the 80s saying that central america was the last frontier -- that the communists were to come to america and to the us if the us did not draw a line there. and guess what they decided to draw a line in my country. >> while the us sent aid south salvadorans fled north. >> we were ruled by violence and as a society we responded to that ruling with violence. it's because we have lived in this kind of environment and yes the us helped nurture, finance and train those elites that made violence the only argument. >> harsh deportation laws landed many gang members back in el salvador in the 1990s -- while
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the country rebuilt. >> the us is an active part of the problem and hasn't been part of the solution. and i would say it's not just part of the problem, it's part of the whole phenomenon. >> on the outskirts of san salvador we went to meet leaders from the ms 13 and the barrio 18 gangs. >> we asked these men why they think so many children are leaving now. >> what do you think the solution to the problem is?
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>> two years ago the two gangs forged a truce and the homicide rate dropped. >> the truce has become fragile and gangs continue to fight for new territories and new members.
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>> how was it that the group became so strong? >> so you say you are stronger than the police and the army in this country.
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>> what would you do if your son comes and tells you he wants to be part of a gang? >> we met many teenagers who said that they were forced to join the group. >> at this public school on the border between two gang territories, students say that's not the case.
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>> hundreds of students have stopped coming to this school in the last year. >> it's been a month since we
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met josue in a mexican detention facility. he's been deported back to el salvador, and his uncle has come to pick him up. >> it's a four-hour drive to the countryside -- back to the neighborhood he just fled. >> watch more "faultlines" on demand or visit >> "consider this". the news of the day, plus so much more. >> we begin with the growing controversy. >> answers to the questions no one else will ask. >> real perspective. "consider this". monday through thursday, 10:00 eastern. only on al jazeera america.
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>> josue's immediate family lives more than three thousand miles away -- near new york city.
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>> last year his mother luz paid several thousand dollars to send for her oldest son daniel roberto. unlike josue daniel roberto reached us soil before being detained by border patrol. and from there where did they send you? us law protected him from immediate deportation. instead, daniel roberto was released to his mother. now he's fighting for asylum.
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are you afraid for josue? >> immigration lawyers say us judges rarely grant asylum to children who escaped gang violence.
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daniel roberto's mother, luz, left her boys a decade ago. >> a lot of people find it difficult to understand how a mother can leave her kids behind. what would you say to them? >> in el salvador, josue is back in the neighborhood where his brother fled gang recruitment and where
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his father was killed by gangs. his grandparents live next door, but so do members from the ms-13 gang. he says that's the hammock where the gang members come and sleep at night. this is right next to his home. the salvadoran government is threatening to take josue from his uncle if he's caught leaving the country again. >> when he arrived you told him to stay inside the house because you were worried that he might be picked up by some gangs? >> you told me before that you were not going to go to school?
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why is that? >> do you think that josue might be in the same type of danger? >> you will be 15 this november, are you afraid of what will happen then? >> above all implications origins, considerations about gang members, whether they're really fleeing gang violence or not. they are children they are vulnerable.
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so my take would be, yes, these are refugees. >> as long as the causes down there in central america are the same and they are the same and i don't see any public policy addressing those, and the us doesn't have the important meaningful conversation about how it is going to treat the immigration problem, the conditions are there the road is open. >> all of these people eagerly waiting in line are about to get closer than they ever have before to an 8,000 pound giant.
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>> hi bamboo! >> bamboo is the oldest elephant here at seattle's woodland park zoo. she shares this space with two other elephants, 35 year old chai and 45 year old retoto. >> so even when we have elephants that are sharing the same space together, they often times choose just to share opposite ends of the exhibit. >> a growing body of evidence shows that zoo elephants thrive when they are able to socialize with each other in a herd of three or more. the a.z.a. is requiring all of its accredited zoos with less than three elephants, increase their herds or phase out their programs and donate their elephants to other zoos. animal rights advocates say that's not enough. >> what would you like to see for these elephants? >> i would like to see them retired to a sanctuary where they can roam on vast acres of land. >> but curator martin ramirez believes zoos have a duty to breed new elephants and sanctuaries are meant for the animals to live out their days not procreate.
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>> there you go, perfect! >> ramirez hopes that providing an up close and personal experience will inspire everyone to join the effort to save the elephants. a huge manhunt to two suspects 10s of thousands of people across france are searching for a pair of brothers. meanwhile the nation mourns. >> i am so empty. >> satire clashing with clashing with religion. why some people think it could stourpt the lights on the mull trail culture history. >> i don't think anybody feels like get the whole story. >> a year after a women cal spill tainted the water for hundreds of people, al jazerra returns and find many people are there stil